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Transcripts of Interviews

Transcript of the Director General´s Press Statement on DPRK and Iran

IAEA Headquarters Vienna

Delivered 19 September 2005

Director General Mohamed ElBaradei reacts to the news that North Korea will abandon it nuclear weapons program, and on the Agency´s verification work in Iran, in a breifing to the international Press corps in Vienna today. Following is an unofficial transcript of his remarks to the press before the opening of the IAEA Board of Govornors meeting this week.

Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

I´d like to start by very much welcoming the good news coming from Beijing this morning about the agreement at the six-party talks on the principals that should govern a comprehensive settlement of the Korean issue. I note in particular the commitment by DPRK to go back at an early date to the NPT and to accept IAEA Safeguards. I note also the commitment to abandon their nuclear weapons program; I note also the renewed commitment by all parties for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

I should also note that the parties agreed to discuss the provision of a light-water reactor to DPRK at an early date. This is all very encouraging news; it constitutes a balanced package in my view that addresses both the security needs of North Korea as well as the concerns of the international community about North Korea´s nuclear activities. It has been a long and complex process, the negotiation has been going on for more than two years but in the end negotiation pays and I look forward, myself and my colleagues, to work with all the parties, with DPRK about the modalities of going back, of doing the necessary inspections there to assure ourselves that the nuclear weapon program in the DPRK has been abandoned and that all nuclear activity in the DPRK is subjected to safeguards and dedicated for peaceful purposes.

With regard to Iran, I think, regrettably, we are going through a period of confrontation and political brinkmanship. I very much hope that this week, all the parties should work together to create the necessary conditions to go back to the negotiating table. I note that all parties continue to express preference for going back to negotiation as the best means of resolving all the outstanding issues and again, not unlike North Korea, there are security issues, there are nuclear issues, there are trade issues. So what is needed again is a comprehensive settlement in my view that can only be obtained through negotiation.

AFP: When will you be going back to North Korea?

A: The statement did not specifically say when, however the commitment by North Korea is to go back to the NPT and to inspections at an early date. I certainly will be consulting with the DPRK, with the concerned parties and clearly the earlier we go back, the better. This is going to be a complex inspection process. We need again to reconstruct activities that have taken place since 2002, in fact even before 2002, because since 1993 we haven´t been able to perform comprehensive verification inspection in North Korea. So again there, I would like to discuss with North Korea how we can do our job as effective, as efficient as possible and the more transparency, again, in North Korea like Iran, the more transparency we get the more we are able to provide the required assurances to the international community.

Iran

As you have seen from my report there are a number of important outstanding issues that the Agency still needs to clarify. I have made it very clear in the report that we need a number of additional transparency measures that Iran needs to take, including access to certain sites, including access to certain individuals, including making a number of documents available.

I made very specific requests and I´ve stated very clearly that because of the history of the Iranian programme, because we need to reconstruct 20 years of concealed activities, Iran needs to go out of its way and provide additional transparency measures, more than what they have provided in the past, for us to be able to clarify, understand and confirm the nature of Iran´s programme. Last week, Mr. Larijani, who is the National Security Advisor of Iran, committed to me that Iran will continue to work with us on these issues. So I look forward, again, this week, to see what concrete measures Iran can come up with to make good on its commitment to clarify these issues with us through the necessary transparency and confidence-building measures. The report also says that Iran continues to operate its conversion facility at Esfahan under Agency safeguards. All other parts of the suspension remain intact.

You are aware that the Board of Governors, the international community have called on Iran to go back into full suspension as a confidence-building measure. So, the ball is very much in Iran´s court on this issue and again, I would like to see Iran coming with a solution acceptable to the international community that could allay the concerns of the international community about its nuclear fuel cycle activities.

This is going to be a long week for us. I hope again it´s an opportunity for people, after they have staked out their position in the last couple of weeks, to start to see now how we can get the different views to converge and achieve the ultimate objective we all share which is to be able as early as possible to clarify the remaining issues in Iran and to be able to provide assurance that Iran´s programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

I´d like to take a couple of questions before I go:

Q: [Unintelligible]

A: Well, I haven´t studied the recent Ahmadinejad proposal in depth. As I have said, any proposals on the part of Iran that can allay the concerns of the international community about Iran´s nuclear programme are welcomed. We´ll see how this proposal will be translated into specific details - we need to understand how and what this proposal means in actual terms.

There are a lot of ideas on the table to see how Iran would restore international confidence in its activities. It is not for me to say what is the optimal solution, but I would hope that again, this week that all concerned parties will be heavily engaged in trying to find ways and means to go back to the negotiating table, ways and means for Iran to enable us to complete our job in inspecting its past programmes and clarifying its current programme, ways and means to provide the assurance to the international community about its fuel cycle activities which, as you have seen over the last few months, have given rise to a lot of international concerns in many quarters.

You know my views on the fuel cycle. I believe that we need to control the dissemination of fuel cycle activities not only with Iran but globally. I´ve been talking about a multi-national approach to fuel cycle activities; I´ve been talking about assurance of supply for reactor technology and fuel. This is to me the road for the future. I think if we need to assure ourselves that nuclear energy, which is seeing major expansion is not being misused, I think we need to revisit the whole question of national control over fuel cycle activities. This is however, not just an Iran issue, it is an issue which was brought to light by Iran, but we need a solution, a global solution, that assures the international community of a better control over this sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Q: [Unintelligible]

A: We are still going through our investigation in Iran. We have said that the material that has been declared to us in Iran is accounted for and is under safeguards, but we are not yet in a position to say that all nuclear material and activities in Iran have been declared to us. As I´ve been saying, the jury is still out on this issue and the more transparency we receive from Iran, the more we will be in position to come to a conclusion on this particular issue.

BLOOMBERG NEWS: The idea of that Iran would be interested in a joint venture or partnership with other countries. Is that a non-starter? Is that within IAEA´s... to help facilitate that kind of arrangement? Or is that off the table from this Agency´s standpoint?

A: This is for the Member States to pronounce themselves, whether this is something they are interested in, whether this is something they can provide assurance to the international community about Iran´s fuel cycle activities. But, as I said, in broad terms, I would like to see more international control over fuel cycle activities. The specific case of Iran, the Iranian proposal has just been made and I will be interested to see the reaction of other parties, of other Member States.

Q: [Unintelligible]

A: I think what I mentioned in my report, are very specific issues that should not take us very long to perform. I´d like to see visits to certain facilities, I´d like to see documents about their past offers on enrichment produced, I´d like to interview a number of people. So it should not take very long. There are clearly a number of questions that we can clarify, but we need to continue our redundancy verification activities in Iran over an extended period of time before we are able to say, everything is clear. That usually takes us a long time in any other country, because that is an important conclusion and we do not reach it lightly. I´ve said before it will possibly take a longer time in Iran, but the more transparency we get, the quicker we´ll be able to reach the conclusion.

REUTERS: The Board is pretty well split down the middle on the issue of whether Iran should go to the Security Council. If the Board were to pass a resolution with a slim majority that took some action, what kind of message would this send to the international community and Iran?

A: Well, it is too early to predict what will be the outcome of the Board. I clearly, obviously, would like to continue to see a united international community. These are issues of peace and security where we all should be united in the way we should address it. I have made my report very clear in terms of our technical findings, in terms of our technical assessment. How the Member States are going to react to the report is very much a policy judgment and that is the prerogative of our Member States. I should however, end on a positive note that what we have seen coming today from Korea gives me a lot of encouragement that issues as complex as they could be, can be in fact resolved if good faith on all sides exists and if we endure and if we continue to negotiate directly with each other.